British woman murdered by her neighbour, inquest told

By ELOïSE WALTON [email protected]

Eloise Walton is a graduate from Bristol University with a degree in Archaeology and Geology. She moved to the Algarve in 2005 and came to work for the Resident as a journalist early last year.

A British teacher, who moved to the Algarve for a better life, was shot by her 70-year old neighbour after a long running row and died more than a year later as a result of her injuries, an inquest in the UK heard on March 25.

Kirsty MacGowan, 57, was shot in the head from point-blank range by pensioner Manuel Júlio da Encarnação Botelho in Olhão. (See the Algarve Resident editions, February 1, February 8 and March 14, 2008).

Manuel Botelho fled into his house before the police and emergency services arrived. PSP police attempted to calm him down, but during the negotiations, he shot himself in the head with the same gun and died two days later.

The attack was allegedly prompted after verbal death threats escalated when Manuel became angry with his neighbour for feeding stray animals, and with other neighbours for parking their cars in front of his house.

Westminster Coroner Dr Paul Knapman recorded a verdict of unlawful killing after referring to documents from Portugal’s Ministry of Justice.

He said: “What a terrible thing. It clearly shows she was murdered by this man. It seems to me that she was caught up in this incident.”

The coroner told the Algarve Resident that translated evidence was read out in court from the Portuguese Ministry of Justice.

This stated that Manuel Botelho attacked Kirsty MacGowan with a walking stick  shouting “today you are going to pay for it”, before pulling out a gun and opening fire.


Kirsty MacGowan, who had lived in Portugal for three years, was taken to Faro hospital before being transferred to the neurosurgery intensive care ward of São José hospital in Lisbon where she was operated on.

However, doctors were unable to remove a bullet lodged in her skull. She remained in Lisbon until February 2008, when she was flown to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, UK, to be near her daughter.

She died in the hospital in January this year of ‘bronchio pneumonia due to missile head injury’.

A statement about Kirsty MacGowan was read out at the inquest, which described how she went to Portugal for a new challenge and to keep up her job as an English teacher.

It added: “she enjoyed her life to the full. She had many friends and a tremendous social life.”

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